Before you can catch rainbow trout with confidence, you need to understand them. You don’t have to know everything about them – but you should know enough to be able to catch them consistently.
They’re members of the salmon and trout subgroup of the salmon family. This family also includes golden, cutthroat and redband trout. It’s highly regarded as one of the most successful of introduced salmonids.
It’s also the most widely recognized member of the trout species. It’s also in the top five of the most sought after game fish in North America. That’s quite a title! Mature males have a hooked snout.
What Rainbow Trout Look Like
These fish are typically found in park streams, which can be inhabited by natural or stocked variations. The size of each individual can range from 7 up to 12 inches.
It’s not uncommon to encounter a larger, 19-inch fish. They are usually olive-green dorsally and have purple to brassy iridescence. The sides and back are marked with black or dark-olive spots.
The mid-side markings include a wide purple, pink or red band, which might be continuous or broken into a blotched pattern. The lower sides can transition from white to silvery with a white underside.
The caudal, adipose and dorsal fins are usually light olive to amber marked and have dark colored spots. The lower fins are usually pale shades of red, purple, gray or amber. The pelvic and anal fins are usually white tipped.
Behavior of Rainbow Trout
These fish aren’t nearly as closely associated with benthic and streambed habitats as brown trout. They’re also not as prone to frequent deeply shaded habitats like brook trout. Most prefer to hang out in open runs where they’re able to feed at the water’s surface far more often than brook and brown trout.
What Do Rainbow Trout Eat?
Like all other trout species, they are what you would call opportunistic feeders, so they frequently eat aquatic insects that they encounter in drifting water.
They also eat terrestrial insects that happen to fall into the water stream. Some of the larger specimens will prey on smaller fish, which is typical of any larger trout. Some larger specimens have been dissected with multiple cicada corpses and other small insects found in their stomach.
What You Need To Know About Them
They are native only to the lakes and rivers of North America, just west of the Rocky Mountains. It’s well-known for being a hard-fighting game fish, which is one of the reasons why it’s highly sought after.
When cooked properly, it’s also very delicious. Due to these facts, it has been introduced throughout the world. Also known as redband trout, these fish are extremely beautiful.
They have colorings and marking that vary depending on the habitat, spawning condition and age. Most of these fish are shaped like torpedo-shaped, and they’re usually yellow-green or blue-green in color.
They typically have a pink streak along their sides. They have a white underbelly and smaller black spots on their fins and back. They can grow pretty large, with some specimens exceeding 4 feet in length and 53 pounds. An average rainbow trout is 20 to 30 inches and weighs about 8 pounds.
What Conditions Do They Prefer?
These fish prefer clear, cool rivers, lakes and streams. However, some leave their freshwater habitat and follow a river out to sea. The ones that end up migrating to the ocean are called steelheads because they develop silvery markings.
These steelheads will go on to spend several years in the ocean, but to spawn, they must return to their original stream habitat. These fish survive on small fish, crustaceans and insects.
There are healthy populations of this fish across the planet, and they don’t have any special protections or status. In some areas where these fish have been introduced, they’re viewed as non-native pest species.